Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hancock to undergo extreme makeover

BALDWYN, Miss. - Hancock Fabrics will undergo an extreme makeover this year to re-merchandise its stores by the fall. The plan calls for the company to reconnect with its customers and stores by reevaluating everything it does from the customer's point of view in terms of product selection, store layout, merchandise presentation and advertising/marketing initiatives.

"Phase one is all about acquiring the knowledge to gain control over and stabilize our business," said Jane Aggers, president and CEO of Hancock Fabrics. "Phase two is about using the information from our customers and stores to improve the four-wall results of existing stores. (This) is already in place and very active with an aggressive timeline to support the fall season."

Hampered by a deep slide in same-store sales, thinning margins and an inventory build-up, Hancock recorded a first quarter loss of $3.3 million, compared with a small year-before profit of $816,000. Sales at the fabrics, crafts and home decorating specialist skidded 6.9 percent, to $97.8 million from $105.1 million last year. Same-store sales fell 6.9 percent, crimped in part by one less shopping day in this year's first quarter.